Toilet Training

All puppies would have been taught by their mother: Do not toilet near the sleeping areas, food areas and drinking water areas – any where else is fine. So, your puppy comes knowing and understanding these facts. Then he lives with us humans and soon finds out we make big issue’s about going to the toilet, which is most confusing to the canine.

If you have a puppy then you must teach him what you want and reward the correct behaviour. The bowel and bladder will not be fully developed as in an adult dog, so frequent visits to the toilet area and patience will be needed.

In an adult dog you first need to establish the following:

Was the dog house trained but has since started to toilet indoors? If so, a visit to the vet is strongly recommended.

Does the dog toilet indoors in front of you? Then basic housetraining needs to be taught after having had your dog checked by a vet.

Does your dog toilet indoors but you never in front of you, you find it later? After a check up at vets please read “reprimanding in toilet training” within this leaflet.

A little more patience will be needed for this dog.

Reprimanding for Toilet Training.
Some people believe they must reprimand their dog if it toilets indoors and that will teach the dog “do not toilet indoors, but toilet outside only”. Unfortunately this is not what the dog learns at all; instead the dog learns


So, now our dog will hold its toilet until it can sneak off to a place where nobody is, maybe the end of the hallway or behind the settee and then toilet. After sometime the person will find the toilet and may well drag the dog up to this and reprimand further which is very upsetting to the dog, and can really not understand what they are doing wrong or why we should get so upset about a normal toilet function.

It may now start another problem called Coprophagia – this means to “eat the evidence” Your dog will now continue sneaking off to toilet and then will eat it, a very difficult problem to overcome, so reprimanding a dog when toilet training it is a definite NO.

How To Toilet Train.
If you have skipped reading the above section to get to this point, please go back and read as it is important to have an understanding of how the dog views toilet training for us to be successful in teaching it our house rules.
It is important when housetraining a puppy or adult dog to have good supervision. We find the use of a child’s stair gate to be extremely helpful in these situations, so we can limit where the dog is at any given time during the day, thus making supervision easier. If we allow the dog the full run of our home we cannot possibly supervise it, so we are setting this dog up to be unsuccessful at what we are trying to teach it.

Every time your dog has just eaten, woken from a sleep or when you see it circling and sniffing which is a sign it is looking for a place to toilet, take it outside to your chosen toilet area. You must go and stay out with it for about 2-3 minutes because when your dog toilets you need to reward this behaviour outside – rewarded behaviour increases. You have two seconds from the time the dog has been to toilet to receiving the reward for it for the dog to connect “I received that reward for going to toilet”. So it is no good being at the other end of the garden to the dog, as the reward cannot be given soon enough. If your dog has not been within 2-3 minutes, then either stay outside a little longer or bring the dog in and supervise it very closely, repeating the process if you see him circling & sniffing or in any case within the next 20 minutes.

All dog’s will have accidents during this training process and it is vitally important you handle this correctly otherwise you will make much worse problems.
If your dog toilets indoors you must ignore this, he will have given some signal, even just circling & sniffing briefly and you have missed this. It is so important that you do not give any attention for going to toilet indoors, not even a frown on your face! Ignored behaviour decreases. Even if your dog is gone right under your nose – you must say nothing. I know this can be difficult, but it is the fastest way of toilet training your dog successfully and hence why I suggested a stair gate to supervise access. It maybe harder for you to ignore it in your lounge or bedroom areas for example so do not give him access to these areas until he is trained.

After a few moments remove your dog from the room in a very light hearted way, as you must not even clear the toilet up in the presence of your dog. If you do, your dog will also see this as “giving attention” to go to toilet indoors, so it will increase and become an attention-seeking problem.

When washing the area you need to make sure you eliminate any scent, otherwise the dog will repeat in those areas again. To do this either use a scent deterrent for going to the toilet or you can successful use one part biological washing powder to four parts warm water, mixed together and wash area well to eliminate scent, but do test the carpet first in case it effects the colour or contour. If you use disinfectants or ammonia based products you will enhance the scent indoors and so your dog will repeat its toilet habits indoors.
You should now be:

Making sure no scent is left indoors for the dog to pick up on and he/she needs this to be able to toilet.

All scent is now in your toilet area only.

You are supervising access indoors until your dog is toilet trained.

After meals, sleeping or any circling & sniffing you are taking your dog outside.

You are rewarding all toileting outside with your attention and treats.

You are ignoring all toileting indoors no matter what.

You are not clearing up toilet in front of your dog indoors

You are clearing up in front of your dog outside.

Stick to these rules for toilet training and you can expect success shortly, but if just one person breaks any of these rules you will all be very much longer at toilet training your dog.

Lastly, some people like to put newspaper down when toilet training. I prefer not to as I want my dog to learn to go on an out door surface not paper. But at night, especially with a puppy, I will put paper down at this time if necessary, as this will be the last stage of toilet training for a young dog.